Tag Archives: nuclear deterrent

Rebuttal of lies about US nuclear weapons and ICBMs

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For decades, leftist politicians, media outlets, and “arms control advocates” (read: advocates of America’s unilateral disarmament) have falsely claimed that the US nuclear deterrent is obsolete, unneeded, and unimportant. They have recently been joined by some pseudoconservative, pseudo-pro-military outlets such as the Air Force Magazine, the press organ of the Air Force Association.

Concurrently, for decades, Washington has carelessly and inexplicably neglected and underfunded the US nuclear deterrent, delaying its much-needed modernization until now, when the can cannot be kicked down the road any longer.

It is for THESE reasons, and not for the reasons the anti-military Left claims, that the US nuclear deterrent, or more specifically, its ICBM force, has witnessed a degrengolade in the last few years, with over 30 officers suspended or fired for cheating on tests (or tolerating cheating by others), a few others arrested for drug usage, and a two-star ICBM general punished for binge-drinking in Moscow.

It is precisely because of over two decades of unceasing leftist propaganda about the supposed obsolence and uselessness of the nuclear deterrent, unceasing Leftist attacks on it and proposals to cut or eliminate it outright, and because of over two decades of underfunding and neglecting the nuclear deterrent, that the ICBM force is showing such rot.

For over two decades, the nation has been (wrongly) telling the young men and women maintaining and operating America’s ICBMs, bombers, and ballistic missile subs that their mission doesn’t exist, their work doesn’t matter, and their tools of trade are useless (which, BTW, couldn’t be further from the truth). Guess what? Those young folks’ morale and motivation for work have collapsed – and consequently, so have their work ethic and standards.

As for drug and alcohol problems, these – like cheating on tests and tolerating cheating by others – are nothing but simple reflections of the American society as a whole. They’re commonplace in the entire US military – which is nothing but a reflection of the society it serves. And that society is, to be blunt, morally degenerate and rotten to the core.

Lexington Institute COO Loren Thompson, Ph.D., who taught nuclear deterrence issues at Georgetown some years back, says the ICBM force’s rot may have something to do with the forementioned dismissal and neglect of the nuclear deterrent.

Excuse me? It has EVERYTHING to do with that dismissal of the need for, and the neglect of, the nuclear deterrent.

The Real Causes of the ICBM Force’s Rot

The Air Force personnel who operate these missiles – the missileers – no longer feel appreciated, no longer believe their mission is vital, and thus, no longer feel the need to perform it to the best of their ability. And they know that these days, in an era of universal deceit, when the entire nation is deluding itself that it no longer needs nuclear weapons, being a missileer is a career killer.

This is a total contrast to the Cold War years, when the Air Force had a Strategic Air Command, controlling all of the nation’s ICBMs, bombers, tankers, and even some escort fighters. It was almost a shadow state within the Air Force, a powerful, awesome, and unstoppable military force all by itself, wielding far more ICBMs and bombers than the USAF does today.

On paper, it was just a part of the Air Force – but it was its most important component by far and THE crown jewel of all military commands. The dream of every missileer and bomber pilot during the Cold War was to end up commanding the SAC. SAC was not just a hugely important command in and of itself – several of its leaders, from Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay to John D. Ryan to Larry D. Welch – ended up serving as Chiefs of Staff of the whole Air Force.

Thus, the job of a missileer, and of a bomber pilot, carried enormous prestige and gave young officers great career prospects in the Air Force – up to and often including the top position in the USAF.

Leftist anti-nuclear hacks, such as Joe Cirincione and AP reporter Robert Burns, falsely claim that the ICBM force is rotten because it’s “an outdated command wielding outdated weapons” and that its mission no longer exists. The Air Force Magazine’s chief editor, Adam J. Hebert, has also falsely claimed that there is no clear or significant nuclear threat facing the US and that therefore further reductions in America’s nuclear deterrent are “inevitable.”

All of these are blatant lies.

Clear and Present Danger

The nuclear threats facing the US are clear, many, and grave, and thus the need for a large US nuclear arsenal is very real. In fact, that need is now greater than ever.

Russia has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (of which at least 1,500 are operationally deployed right now, and the rest could also be deployed at any moment) and 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons – 6,800 nukes in total (the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates Russia’s nuclear arsenal even higher, at 8,800 weapons).

Russia’s ICBM fleet alone can deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; Russia’s 251 strategic bombers (Tu-95, Tu-22M, Tu-160) can deliver well over 1,700; Russia’s 13 ballistic missile subs can deliver another 1,400 to 2,000, depending on the missile type. On top of that, Russia has attack and cruise missile submarines also armed with nuclear-tipped missiles – all of which can also be delivered to the US, and Russian subs have, in recent months, indeed been prowling US territorial waters.

China has at least 1,600, and possibly up to 3,000, nuclear weapons, according to General Viktor Yesin and Dr Philip Karber (the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist under Ronald Reagan, the last time US nuclear policy was made by sane people). To deliver them, China has at least 87 (and probably many more) ICBMs, 6 ballistic missile submarines, 440 nuclear-capable aircraft, over 100 medium-range ballistic missiles, and over 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles, as well as hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles.

Neither Russia’s or China’s nuclear arsenals are at a standstill. Both are undergoing rapid modernization and expansion.

Russia intends to procure 400 new ICBMs and is currently developing three new ICBM types (the Sarmat, the Rubezh, and the Yars) as well as a pseudo-ICBM (really an IRBM) to evade INF Treaty limits. It has recently tested IRBMs in blatant violation of that treaty. It is also fielding two new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (the Layner and the Bulava, carrying 12 and 10 warheads, respectively), building a new ballistic missile submarine class, and developing a new long-range bomber, the PAK DA.

China is now procuring two new ICBM types (the DF-31A and DF-41), two new MRBM types (the DF-21 and DF-25), building two new ballistic missile submarine classes, and developing a stealthy intercontinental bomber capable of hitting the CONUS, as well as two new, longer-ranged variants of its standard sub-launched missile, the JL-2, whose current range is 8,000-9,000 km; the Chinese want to extend that to 14,000 kms, which will allow their submarines to threaten all of the US while sitting in their homeports.

Not only do Russia and China wield large nuclear arsenals, they’re also quite willing to use them against those whom they perceive as weaker than them. Russia has threatened to aim or launch its nuclear weapons at America or its allies on at least 16 separate occassions in the last 16 years. It has recently deployed Iskander short-range ballistic missiles to Poland’s borders. In the last 2 years, starting in May 2012, it has repeatedly flown nuclear-armed strategic bombers close to and sometimes into US and allied airspace, and even that of neutral countries like Sweden – twice!

China has recently removed any mention of its former “no-first-use” policy from its defense policy papers, and in recent months, OFFICIAL Chinese state media, including the virulently anti-American Global Times, have posted maps of the US showing what deadly nuclear strikes could China unleash upon the US with its JL-2 and DF-31A missiles. Chinese state-owned media gleefully and openly commented on how many millions of Americans would die in Chinese nuclear strikes on the CONUS.

These are the principal adversaries America must confront and deter. No amount of “arms control” or smooth-talking or diplomacy will do. Only a large, diverse, powerful nuclear arsenal, operated by people whose mission is appreciated, can protect America against these threats.

On top of that, the US must also deter North Korea and Iran. The former already has nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to the CONUS, the latter is well on its way to acquiring that capability.

In fact, the “moderate” Iranian president Rouhani openly claims that the West’s recent deal with Iran signed in  on the subject of the Iranian nuclear program is a “capitulation” to Iran by Western countries. (He’s actually right – the deal is nothing but a shameful surrender.)

Defending America’s Allies is in America’s Own National Interest

On top of that, the US must provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but also to over 30 allies and friends around the world, from Canada, to Israel, to Persian Gulf allies, to Poland, to South Korea and Japan.

Many of these allies will have no choice but to develop their own nuclear weapons if the US continues cutting its nuclear arsenal. They cannot afford to, and will not, bet their security and their very existence on America breaking free of its “disarming ourselves will make us safer” delusion – or on such delusions and constant cuts in the US nuclear umbrella increasing their security.

Already, Saudi Arabia possesses DF-3 missiles bought from China and has ordered nuclear weapons in Pakistan, and 66% of South Koreans want their country to have its own nuclear deterrent. Japan is ready to develop one, too – it has a facility capable of producing enough material for 3,600 nuclear weapons in a year if need be.

That would make the nuclear proliferation problem much worse than it already is.

ICBMs Are Crucial – And Very Cheap

And as for ICBMs supposedly being obsolete and too expensive, they are anything but. They cost the DOD only 1.1 bn dollars to maintain and can, thanks to their large number (450, sitting in hardened siloes) absorb even large nuclear blows and still retaliate against an enemy. Only Russia or China could even attempt to destroy them. They have a readiness rate of 99% and can hit any target in the world.

They contribute mightily to nuclear deterrence and stability, and thus to US, allied, and world security.

If ICBMs are really “obsolete” and “expensive weapons, someone better tell that to the Russians, the Chinese, and the Israelis!

Because all of them possess, and continue to develop and build, such weapons.

How To Restore Order And Excellence In The ICBM Force

So how to restore order and excellence in the ICBM force, and the broader nuclear force? That’s easy – it’s just that Washington politicians are unwilling to do so, and the advocates of America’s unilateral disarmament will be dead set against this. But this must be done nonetheless. US, allied, and global security depends on America taking the following steps:

1. Draw up a proper national defense strategy which will prioritize countering nation state threats, especially those posed by Russia, China, and North Korea, over all other aims, and will designate nuclear weapons as the primary means of deterring and defeating these threats – just like nuclear weapons occupy the central place in Russia’s current military doctrine.

2. Publicly proclaim that maintaining and revitalizing all three legs of the nuclear triad, as well as the warheads and the associated facilities, is and will be one of the DOD’s top priorities, and assign funding accordingly. (It will, in any case, cost only 6-7% of the total US military budget to modernize the nuclear deterrent, at between 31 and 35 bn dollars per year out of a 600 bn total military budget.)

3. Withdraw from the New START treaty and reject any calls for any further cuts in the US nuclear deterrent.

4. Publicly proclaim that any attack by Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran against the US or any of its allies, including Israel and its Persian Gulf allies, will result in a massive nuclear retaliation by the US.

5. Publicly proclaim that service as a missileeer and as a bomber pilot is a very noble and glorious service to the Nation and underline its importance to global security. Award medals for long, distinguished service in those roles.

6. Redesignate the Air Force’s Global Strike Command as the Strategic Air Command and restore the old SAC’s logo and motto. Give missileers and bomber pilots a clear, achievable career path to the positions of SAC Commander, AF Chief of Staff, and Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, so that the job of a missileer and that of a bomber pilot will be a very attractive career (as it deserves to be), and not the career killer it currently is for missileers.

7. Strict discipline through punishments needs to be instituted across the entire military (not just the ICBM force), ESPECIALLY towards senior officers.

In sum, nuclear disarmament advocates’ claims are all blatant lies, as always. The need for a large nuclear deterrent, and for the US nuclear triad, is greater than ever because of the threats from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Advocates of America’s disarmament, in and out of government, have, however, been vehemently denying the existence of these threats, and inexplicably neglected the US nuclear deterrent. THIS is why that deterrent is wearing out – as is the morale and work motivation of USAF missileers.

Rebuttal of Benjamin Cooper’s attack on the nuclear deterrent

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The (until recently very respected) Proceedings magazine, run by the US Naval Institute (a private association) has recently published an utterly ridiculous, leftist garbage article by Benjamin Cooper, a contractor working for missile defense companies, which argues for deep further cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent and for completely phasing out the ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet – by the most survivable leg of America’s nuclear triad.

Cooper bases his call on utterly false arguments, namely, that:

1) America doesn’t need SSBNs and a second-strike capability* at all, Russia is a friendly partner, relations with Moscow have improved significantly in recent years and there’s no reason to expect them to deteriorate, and China has only a few hundred warheads;

2) SSBNs are too expensive to develop and build.

What is wrong with his article?

To start with, EVERYTHING.

All of his claims are utterly false, and there are numerous reasons to utterly reject his proposal – and any other proposal to cut the US nuclear deterent any further, for that matter. Here’s why.

1) Contrary to Cooper’s, the Obama administration’s, and the NPR’s lies, Russo-American relations have NOT improved at all under Vladimir Putin, and in the last several years, they have deteriorated significantly, despite, or arguably BECAUSE OF, Obama’s “reset” (read: appeasement) policy. Russia continues to staunchly oppose the US on a very wide range of key issues, such as BMD, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, Edward Snowden, Russia’s repeated violations of human rights, and more. Russia continues to support America’s enemies around the world – Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, China – with diplomatic protection, economic aid, and except Cuba (which can’t afford them) modern weapons. It has, on numerous occassions since 2012, flown nuclear-armed bombers close to American and INTO Japanese airspace. It continues to provide nuclear fuel for Iran’s nuclear program. In the last 6 years, it has repeatedly threatened to target or even use nuclear weapons against US allies. Not only that, but Vladimir Putin openly pokes the US time after time and never misses an opportunity to humiliate Obama.

Russia, judged by its behavior as well as by its anti-American rhetoric, IS an adversary of the US by every definition of the word. If a country behaving in such a manner is not an adversary, then this word has no meaning.

And the ignorant Mr Cooper doesn’t even know that BMD is – especially according to Russia – one of the BIGGEST sources of tension between Washington and Moscow.

“the United States has a minimum of 14 years to continue improving relations with Russia to the point where a guaranteed second-strike capability is no longer required” – What a joke! Relations with Russia have steadily DETERIORATED under Putin, especially during the last 5 years, and will, in all likelihood, worsen even further as Russia exploits America’s weakness and Obama’s appeasement mentality.

2) Russia is not a partner at all, much less in reducing nuclear arsenals. Under New START, Russia is not obliged to cut ANYTHING, and indeed, has not cut even one warhead or delivery system. On the contrary, since New START’s entry into force, Russia has significantly INCREASED its nuclear arsenal – exactly as its leaders said it would do – and intends to increase it further, as confirmed by both Russian officials and Russian (as well as American) analysts. Moreover, it has repeatedly VIOLATED the INF treaty by testing IRBMs (prohibited by INF), which means treaties signed with Russia are worthless pieces of paper.

Throughout the ENTIRE Obama administration tenure, the US has been the ONLY country cutting its nuclear arsenal. Russia and China have been steadily GROWING theirs.

But Russia goes even further and openly calls its nuclear arsenal “sacred” and, in its military doctrine, reserves to itself the right to use nuclear weapons first – against nuclear- and non-nuclear states alike, to win a war quickly.

3) China, contrary to the author’s lies, has between 1,600 (per General Viktor Yesin) and 3,000 (per Professor Philip Karber) nuclear warheads (deployed and nondeployed), NOT the few hundred that Cooper claims. It does not yet have a first-strike capability vs the US, but it DOES have a large arsenal and a credible second-strike capability. It IS a near-peer nuclear opponent.

Its 36 DF-5 heavy ICBMs can carry up to 10 warheads each; its fleet of over 30 DF-31/31A ICBMs, 3-4 warheads per missile; its submarine-launched JL-2 missiles, also 3-4 warheads each; and its newest ICBM, the DF-41, can carry 10 warheads per missile.

36*10 = 30*3 + 10 = 460 warheads deliverable to the US. More than enough to destroy all 450 US ICBMs, if one Chinese warhead is attributed to each US ICBM. And that’s without involving any of China’s SLBMs.

Moreover, China is currently developing a stealthy intercontinental bomber that will also be able to deliver nuclear weapons to the CONUS.

4) Despite the author’s claims that a Russo-American rivalry like the Cold War or a similar Sino-American rivalry are unlikely, the fact is that his claims have already been disproven by reality: both Moscow and Beiing have large nuclear arsenals and are hostile to the US.

5) On top of Russia and China, the US must also deter North Korea and Iran simoultaneously, and must provide a nuclear umbrella to OVER 30 allies and partners. Meanwhile, Russia and China are threats to many but protectors to nobody. America’s allies around the world have already warned the US over cutting its nuclear arsenal further, and if the US proceeds with further cuts anyway, they will very likely develop their own nuclear arsenals. Japan has facilities that could produce 3,600 warheads in a matter of 6 months if need be. Saudi Arabia is already preparing to “go nuclear” if need be.

Thus, contrary to the author’s blatant lies, a second-strike capability – and thus, the SSBNX program – is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Moreover, the 2010 NPR, which the author loves to quote (selectively), REAFFIRMED the nuclear triad. And while the author cites a few leftist studies arguing for a dyad, there are many other, much more credible, studies calling for the retention of the nuclear triad, such as those by the Heritage Foundation, the CSBA, CSIS,  and CNAS.

6) Despite the author’s claim that the SSBNX is unaffordable, it actually is quite affordable – its unit cost of $3.6 bn is not much more than the Virginia class’s $2.4 bn per boat cost or the Arleigh Burke’s $2 bn per ship cost. Once the SSBNX class goes into production, its cost will stabilize. And it could be reduced even further, to no more than $2.4 bn per boat, if the USN were to build a Virginia-class derivative instead of an entirely new class.

And the Missile Defense Agency’s budget – $9-10 bn per year – is not much value for taxpayers’ money. For that kind of money, I could buy at least 2 SSBNs per year, and build the entire required fleet of 12 boats in 6 years. If the cost of a single SSBNX were brought down to $2.4 bn, I could build the entire replacement fleet of 12 boats in 3 years!

Moreover, submarines – including SSBNs – sail underwater and are very stealthy – especially the US Navy’s SSBNs. They are not affected by the dangers that surface ships face (other than naval mines, which they can detect easily); they just can’t let the enemy to detect them acoustically – which, again, the US Navy’s SSBNs have successfully been doing for decades, and you can expect the next-gen SSBNX class to be even quieter.

Meanwhile, surface ships, including and especially the Burke class DDGs that the author hails as alternatives to the SSBNX, face a myriad of deadly threats against which they’re ill-equipped and ill-defended: anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, naval mines, suicide boats, and fast attack craft.

A suicide boat nearly sank the Burke-class destroyer USS Cole in 2000. The USN is ill-equipped (and Burkes are not equipped at all) to fight naval mines – the USN has only 14 aging minesweepers (the French Navy alone has almost that much, at 11). As for ballistic and cruise missiles, the Aegis combat system cannot intercept more than 4 missiles at once, and is hopelessly ineffective against fast, sea-skimming cruise missiles like the SS-N-27 Sizzler (possessed by Russia, China, and Iran among others). Heck, the Navy cannot even replicate the Sizzler – or China’s DF-21D ballistic missile – as a target!

Moreover, according to Winslow Wheeler, when he worked for the GAO in 1980s, the Aegis system performed poorly even against moderately difficult to intercept missiles; against those flying lower and faster, it was hopelessly ineffective.

Again, submarines face none of these threats, other than naval mines.

7) BMD, which the author claims is “the future of strategic deterrence”, is not a credible replacement for SSBNs at all. BMD is still a developmental technology in its infancy. BMD systems have shot down ballistic missiles only in carefully-scripted and timed exercises with advance information, and questions about their reliability abound. Moreover, the USN does not have dedicated, single-purpose BMD ships – it has DDGs and CGs which carry interceptor missiles as well as others – and their magazines of missiles can be easily and quickly exhausted. Indeed, any adversary, even NK and Iran, can always build more offensive missiles than the US can build interceptors, and interceptors are far more expensive than offensive missiles.

8) There is also another problem, namely that land-based ICBMs (or rather, their launch control systems, and for that matter all electrical devices in the US) could be instantly disabled by one EMP strike on the CONUS – for example, by detonating a single nuclear warhead – at a high altitude above the central US (e.g. Nebraska). This would disable all US ICBMs and instantly set the US back to the Stone Age. China (and probably Russia as well) is currently developing EMP weapons to do exactly that. Yet, the US is completely unprepared for the EMP threat.

By contrast, those SSBNs that would be at sea would not be affected at all, as they’d be submerged AND far away from the US. There’s a reason why the SSBN fleet is by far the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad.

In short, Benjamin Cooper’s article is completely wrong and utterly ridiculous. America’s nuclear arsenal and its SSBN fleet are NOT anachronisms, but vital instruments of deterrence in the 21st century; Russia and China both are hostile to the US and have large nuclear arsenals; missile defense is not, and can never be, a replacement for the nuclear deterrent; its effectiveness (and affordability) are dubious; and on top of that, the US has to provide a large nuclear umbrella to over 30 allies who rely on it for their very survival – and who will have to go nuclear themselves if the US cuts its arsenal further.

Cooper’s screed is arguably the dumbest and the worst article ever published in Proceedings, and the editors should be ashamed of themselves for publishing such a pathetic screed.

Cooper’s screed is cretinous and ridiculous. Shame on Proceedings for publishing it.

Postscriptum: I would be remiss if I also didn’t add that the South Korean Defense Ministry has now confirmed what I’ve been saying for many months: that North Korea IS capable of mating nuclear warheads to missiles and HAS mastered the requisite technology. See here.

Beware: Leftist Plan For Even Deeper Cuts in America’s Deterrent

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On June 19th, in Berlin, Barack Obama announced his plan to cut America’s strategic nuclear deterrent further, to a paltry 1,000 warheads, from the 1,550 warheads allowed by the New START treaty – unilaterally if Russia doesn’t agree to a new accord.

Leftist subversives gathered at this year’s Netroots convention universally applauded Obama’s proposal and discussed among each other how they can advocate, and persuade Democratic and Republican members of Congress, to agree to even deeper unilateral cuts in America’s deterrent, and the eventual scrapping of the US nuclear arsenal.

Among the attending groups were such stridently liberal pro-unilateral-disarmament groups as the Ploughshares Fund and Global Zero. Obama’s Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sat on the board of both organizations before being confirmed as Defense Secretary. Before he was nominated, the New York Times said he would ultimately be picked precisely because he wants to cut America’s nuclear deterrent and “kill some major weapon programs.”

At the Netroots convention, the strident pro-unilateral-disarmament liberals showed their real, anti-American, treasonous views and mindset. They made no effort to hide their intention to disarm America completely and unilaterally, regardless of what other nations around the world do.

And in defense of their treasonous disarmament policies, they stated a number of blatant lies designed to mislead the general public. Adam Kredo reports that:

““The size of our nuclear arsenal is ludicrous,” said an outraged John Robert Behrman, committeeman with the Harris County Democratic Party in Houston, Texas.

“The amount of money we spend on nuclear ordinance is ridiculous,” said Behrman, who said that nuclear modernization and maintenance issues “should be the lowest hanging fruit in the defense budget.”

“We have so many weapons already that you know we don’t need to keep these moldy sitting in bunkers around,” added a student activist who had attended the session. “I don’t think they’re necessary and something we should be spending money on at all.””

But their claims are all blatant lies. I’ll show you why.

Firstly, the US spends only a small amount of money on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems and supporting infrastructure: about $32-36 bn per year according to the Stimson Center. This is just 6.19% of the FY2013 military budget ($613 bn per the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act) and a fraction of one percent of the total federal budget. It’s a drop in the bucket.

The delivery systems and warheads themselves are the cheapest part of this. The ICBM leg of the nuclear triad costs just $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per year – and that bomber leg is capable of both nuclear and conventional strike. So for a tiny price of $2.5 bn per annum, America gets two capabilities in one weapon system.

(And as America’s overseas bases become more and more vulnerable to ballistic and cruise missile strikes, not to mention Iranian and Chinese political pressure on host nations, having long-range strike weapons like ICBMs and bombers in large numbers will be even more important than now, for these long-range strike weapons are based in the US and don’t need any foreign bases, or anyone’s permission, to operate and strike.)

No, the amount that the US spends on nuclear weapons and related assets is not “ludicrous” nor large. It’s tiny. It’s a small part of the defense, and the overall federal, budget.

Moreover, the US nuclear arsenal is THE most crucial and THE most needed asset that America has. It is not a “low-hanging fruit in the defense budget” that could be safely cut out of it. It is not some unneeded program. It’s a crucial, irreplacable, and needed asset. It’s the sine qua non of America’s national security.

The US nuclear arsenal is the most effective counter-proliferation program ever created. It has discouraged all of America’s allies except Britain and France from developing nuclear weapons, reassuring them that they don’t need to do so because the US provides a powerful nuclear umbrella to them. Such an umbrella is ESPECIALLY needed now – more than ever – given the nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

Russia has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (including 1,550 deployed) and up to 4,000 tactical warheads – and the means to deliver all 6,800 if need be. Its 434 ICBMs can collectively deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; its 14 ballistic missile submarines can deliver over 2,200 warheads to the CONUS (while sitting in their ports); and each of its 251 strategic bombers can carry up to 7 warheads (1 freefall bomb and 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles). Its Tu-95 bomber fleet alone can deliver over 700 warheads to the middle of America.

In addition, Russia is blatantly violating the INF Treaty by developing and testing an IRBM, and also violating the CFE Treaty! How can we trust Russia to comply with New START and reciprocate the newest cuts proposed Obama when Russia is not complying with existing arms reduction treaties? We can’t!

China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, and the means to deliver at least 1,274 of them. Among these are over 80 ICBMs, 120 MRBMs, over 1,600 SRBMs, dozens of land-attack cruise missiles, six ballistic missile submarines, and 440 nuclear-capable aircraft. While the vast majority of its SRBMs and cruise missiles are reportedly conventionally-armed at present, they could be armed with nuclear weapons anytime, which is called “breakout capability.”

Then there’s North Korea with its nuclear arsenal (which it has recently announced it will grow its nuclear arsenal) and ICBMs capable of reaching the US, and Iran, which is coming closer to achieving nuclear weapon status everyday. Only nuclear weapons can protect America against these threats. So they are HIGHLY RELEVANT in the 21st century.

Besides deterring nuclear attack, nuclear weapons also protect America’s treaty allies against a large-scale conventional attack – ensuring that it has never happened so far.

And how big is America’s nuclear arsenal, exactly? Is the number ridiculous?

No, it’s not. It’s over 75% smaller than it was just 21 years ago at the Cold War’s end. Only 1,800 deployed strategic warheads, due to shrink to New START’s limit of 1,550 within the next 6 years, plus 180 deployed tactical warheads and some 2,000-3,000 warheads in reserve or awaiting dismantlement. In total, some 5,000 warheads – less than a quarter of the arsenal’s size in 1991 (over 20,000 warheads).

Since the Cold War’s end, the US has cut its nuclear arsenal by over 75%; stopped designing, producing, or testing nuclear warheads; has not produced a single ballistic missile or strategic cruise missile; has retired all of its stealthy strategic cruise missiles built by Ronald Reagan; has cut its ballistic missile submarine fleet to just 14 boats; has produced only 20 B-2 bombers; has withdrawn its tactical nuclear weapons unilaterally from ships, submarines, and South Korea; has dramatically cut its ICBM fleet from over 600 to just 450 missiles (due to shrink to 420); has dramatically closed its bomber fleet; has closed the Ohio class SSBN, B-2 bomber, Minuteman ICBM, and Peacekeeper ICBM production lines; and has adhered to all of its arms control commitments (while no one else has).

Meanwhile, Russia has an estimated arsenal of anywhere between 6,800 and 8,800 nuclear weapons, and China an arsenal between 1,800 and 3,000 warheads.

No, the size of America’s nuclear arsenal is not “ludicrous” nor too big. If anything, it’s too small.

In 2010, when the Senate was holding hearings on the New START treaty, the then commander of the US Strategic Command overseeing nuclear weapons, Gen. Kevin Chilton, said that New START’s limit of 1,550 deployed warheads was the LOWEST number of weapons America could safely cut to. Many reputable analysts, such as former Under Secretaries of State for Arms Control John Bolton, Paula deSutter, and Robert Joseph, warned that even this level is unsafe.

America needs all of the nuclear weapons she currently has. If anything, America needs more of them.

The extremely liberal pro-unilateral-disarmament groups gathered at Netroots also praised Obama’s plan to deeply cut America’s arsenal again, and his selection of Chuck Hagel – their longtime ally – to be Defense Secretary. The unilateral disarmament advocates believe Hagel will be their key ally in disarming the US unilaterally. Adam Kredo reports that:

“Ploughshares director of communications Margaret Swink also praised the president’s anti-nuclear stance during an interview with the Free Beaconimmediately following the strategy session.

“I think the administration does support it and [we] saw again the speech this week that Obama, as Global Zero was saying, Obama supports this issue and the peace and security of a world without nuke weapons,” said Swink, whose organization funded an aggressive campaign to support Hagel during his contentious nomination process

“We were obviously very pleased that Chuck Hagel became secretary of defense and feel very excited about working with him as we move forward,” Swink said. “With regard to nuclear issues, he’s a strong partner. I don’t think anything has changed about that since when he was on our board to now being secretary of defense.””

Do you see? I was right about Hagel all along. Hagel DOES support America’s unilateral disarmament, and Republicans made a huge and unforgivable betrayal of conservative principles by voting to invoke cloture on his nomination and by voting to confirm him.

If Republicans want to redeem themselves, they ABSOLUTELY MUST block ANY further cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent – even by treaty. I repeat: if they want to redeem themselves, they MUST SUCCESSFULLY BLOCK ANY further cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent – even by treaty.

Rebuttal of the 6 most popular myths about nuclear weapons

megoizzy (CC)

As it continues to campaign for deep cuts in America’s defenses, the Left has particularly aimed its arrows at the US nuclear deterrent, which protect America and over 30 of its allies against the most catastrophic threats: a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack; a large-scale conventional attack; and nuclear proliferation. It is the most effective nonproliferation program ever enacted.

It is falsely claimed that:

1)      Nuclear weapons are irrelevant in the 21st century security environment. They are relics of the Cold War.

2)      A “world without nuclear weapons” is both realistically attainable and desirable.

3)      The nuclear triad is too expensive and not worth the cost.

4)      The entire nuclear arsenal is too expensive and siphons money away from other defense programs.

5)      Conventional weapons, missile defense systems, and cyberweapons can replace nuclear weapons in a very wide range of missions and scenarios and against the vast majority of targets.

6)      The fewer nuclear weapons the US has, the better; cutting America’s nuclear deterrent makes America safer.

Let’s deal with these myths one after another.

Myth #1: Nuclear weapons are irrelevant in the 21st century security environment. They are relics of the Cold War.

The facts: Nuclear weapons are HIGHLY RELEVANT in the 21st century security environment. They protect America and all of its allies against the following three, potentially catastrophic, security threats: a nuclear/chemical/biological attack, a large-scale conventional attack, and nuclear proliferation.

megoizzy (CC)

megoizzy (CC)


The US nuclear arsenal is the most effective counter-proliferation program ever created. It has discouraged all of America’s allies except Britain and France from developing nuclear weapons, reassuring them that they don’t need to do so because the US provides a powerful nuclear umbrella to them. Such an umbrella is ESPECIALLY needed now – more than ever – given the nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

Russia has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (including 1,550 deployed) and up to 4,000 tactical warheads – and the means to deliver all 6,800 if need be. Its 434 ICBMs can collectively deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; its 14 ballistic missile submarines can deliver over 2,200 warheads to the CONUS (while sitting in their ports); and each of its 251 strategic bombers can carry up to 7 warheads (1 freefall bomb and 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles). Its Tu-95 bomber fleet alone can deliver over 700 warheads to the middle of America.

China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, and the means to deliver 1,274 of them. Among these are almost 70 ICBMs, 120-140 MRBMs, over 1,600 SRBMs, dozens of land-attack cruise missiles, six ballistic missile submarines, and 440 nuclear-capable aircraft. While the vast majority of its SRBMs and cruise missiles are reportedly conventionally-armed at present, they could be armed with nuclear weapons anytime, which is called “breakout capability.”

Then there’s North Korea with its nuclear arsenal (which it has announced it will grow) and ICBMs capable of reaching the US, and Iran, which is coming closer to achieving nuclear weapon status everyday.

Besides deterring nuclear attack, nuclear weapons also protect America’s treaty allies against a large-scale conventional attack – ensuring that it has never happened so far.

Myth #2: A “world without nuclear weapons” is both realistically attainable and desirable. 

The facts: A world without nuclear weapons (“Global Zero”) is neither achievable nor desirable. Not achievable, because no other country in the world is following America’s disarmament “example” (and foreign countries don’t care about America’s “examples”; they care only about their self-interest). No other country is following the US on the road to “Global Zero”. Accordingly, there will NEVER be a world without nuclear weapons.

Russia has recently declared it will not cut its nuclear arsenal nor enter into any negotiations to that end. It is actually building UP its arsenal (as allowed to do so by the New START) and modernizing it. China, which has up to 3,000 nuclear warheads, is also rapidly building up and modernizing its arsenal, and refusing to even disclose its size or enter into any talks – let alone formal treaty negotiations – about it. Likewise, India and Pakistan refuse to join the Nonproliferation Treaty, disclose the size of their arsenals, or enter into any talks – let alone arms control treaties – pertaining to these arsenals. Ditto North Korea, which has recently announced it will NEVER give up its nuclear arsenal and that, if anything, it will INCREASE its size and restart the Yongboyng reactor to harvest plutonium from spent fuel rods.

So NO nuclear power wants to join the West in its suicidal nuclear disarmament quest. None whatsoever. Not Russia, not China, not India and Pakistan, not North Korea. And, of course, Iran is racing towards nuclear power status.

Even Bruce Blair, a supporter of America’s nuclear disarmament, testified recently before the House Armed Services Committee on March 19th that even if America cut its nuclear arsenal deeply, e.g. along the lines of what his organization (Global Zero) proposes, NOBODY would reciprocate. (1:04:41)

Which is true – Russia, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, etc., are all refusing to even cut, let alone eliminate, their nuclear arsenals. Obama has NO followers on the road to his totally unrealistic goal of “global zero”. There will never be a “global zero.”

Nuclear weaponry is a genie that cannot be put back into the bottle. It cannot be “un-invented” or banished from the face of the Earth, contrary to the unrealistic dreams of several US Presidents, including Ronald Reagan (this shows that, alas, Reagan wasn’t perfect and had some flaws).

Nor would a “nuclear-free world” be safer and more peaceful than it is now, contrary to Obama’s false claims that the US should “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” On the contrary, it would be less peaceful and secure.

Humanity lived through “Global Zero” – in a world without nukes – for almost its entire history from its dawn to 1945. During that time, there were numerous and horribly destructive wars between the great powers of the time, each one leading to huge casualties among combatants and civilians and to great destruction. Examples included the Peloponesian war, Rome’s wars of conquest, the Hundred Years War, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the Seven Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, and of course, the two World Wars. Not to mention the numerous bloody civil wars such as those in the US (1861-1865) and Russia (1918-1923).

5 million people, including 1 million Frenchmen, died in the Napoleonic Wars. Proportionally to the populations of today, that would be 50 million Europeans, including 10 million Frenchmen. French casualties in these wars were 14% higher than in WW1. In that war alone, about 10 million people died; in World War 2, over 60 million, and its perpetrators attempted the extermination of entire nations (peoples) and even races. The sheer barbarity and murder witnessed during that war is unmatched by any conflict before or after that war.

Since 1945, however – the advent of nuclear weapons – there has been NO war between the great powers. And it is mostly, if not entirely, because of nuclear weapons, which have moderated their behavior and forced them to accept coexistence with each other even if they have diametrically opposed ideologies. Nuclear weapons have taught them that even the most difficult compromise is better than a nuclear exchange.

Nuclear weapons have not ended war completely – no invention will ever do that – but they have eliminated great power wars. All wars since 1945 have been either between smaller, non-world-power countries (e.g. conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors), or between a world power and a weaker country (e.g. Iraq, Vietnam), or between a country and an insurgency (e.g. the US vs the Taleban).

Such conflicts have a much smaller scale, body count, and destructive power than great power wars. Since WW2, there hasn’t been a conflict even approaching the sheer barbarity and destruction of WW2, and it is mostly, if not entirely, due to nuclear weapons.

Instead of seeking their scrapping, we should all learn to love them.

Myth #3: The nuclear triad is too expensive and not worth the cost.

The facts: The nuclear triad is NOT too expensive and is well worth the cost. The ICBM leg of the nuclear triad – the cheapest, most ready, most responsive, and most dispersed leg – costs only $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per year. The entire nuclear arsenal, including all the warheads, missiles, bombers, submarines, supporting facilities, and personnel costs only $32-38 bn per year to maintain, which is only 6.3% of the entire military budget ($611 bn in FY2013, pre-sequestration).

For that low cost, taxpayers get a large, diverse, survivable nuclear triad capable of surviving even a large-scale first strike and of striking anywhere in the world with any needed measure of power. A triad that gives the President huge flexibility in where, when, and how to strike; a triad that keeps the enemy guessing as to how the US would retaliate.

As Robert Kaplan says, “Don’t give your enemy too few problems to solve because if you do, he’ll solve them.”

Without the ICBM leg, the enemy would have to destroy only 2 submarine bases, 3 bomber bases, and any SSBNs that would be on patrol. WITH the ICBM leg still existing, the enemy would also have to make sure he destroys every single USAF ICBM silo; there are 450, and the USAF may have built decoy siloes.

Numbers don’t lie. Liberals do.

Without a triad, the nuclear deterrent would’ve been much less survivable than it is. This will be even MORE important as the arsenal is cut to even lower, post-New-START, levels.

A nuclear triad is the most survivable and most flexible nuclear arsenal arrangement ever invented, which is why the US, Russia, China, and Israel all have it, and why India is developing it. The Air Force is also considering the development of a rail-mobile ICBM, which could be hidden in innocently-looking, civilian-style railroad cars.

Myth #4: The entire nuclear arsenal is too expensive and siphons money away from other defense programs.

The facts: According to the Stimson Center, maintaining the US nuclear deterrent costs ca. $32–36 bn per year, including all the warheads, delivery systems, support facilities, personnel, and nuclear-related intelligence. This is a paltry 5.872% of the FY2013 military budget ($613 bn per the FY2013 NDAA). Modernizing the nuclear arsenal will, according to Stimson, cost up to $390 bn over the next decade, i.e. $39 bn per year on average. This is 6.4% of the FY2013 military budget. These are microscoping percentages.

So the US provides a large nuclear umbrella to itself and to over 30 allies at a cost of only 6% of its total military budget.

Furthermore, even if the ENTIRE nuclear arsenal were scrapped IMMEDIATELY and UNILATERALLY today, that would “save” a paltry $36 bn per year and thus fail to come even close to paying for sequestration, let alone balancing the federal budget.

No, the US nuclear arsenal is not siphoning money away from anything. As usual, it’s a scapegoat for liberals.

It is, in fact, other, more costly defense programs that are siphoning money away from nuclear deterrence and other defense priorities. For example, the development and acquisition of 2,400 short-range, understealthed, slow, sluggish F-35 strike jets will cost $400 bn. A single aircraft carrier costs $15 bn, yet is tragically vulnerable to ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, and naval mines. Yet, the biggest cost drivers in the defense budget are personnel programs (pay, benefits, healthcare, retirement, etc.), which, unless seriously reformed, will consume the ENTIRE defense budget by no later than FY2039. That means no money for nuclear deterrence or for weapons of any kind.

And while F-35s and aircraft carriers are increasingly and prohibitively expensive, they’re also increasingly vulnerable and useless for the threat environments the US military will have to operate in. Meanwhile, the next generation bomber will be able to strike from well over the horizon – even the CONUS – and submarines have always been stealthy. USAF ICBMs sit in hardened siloes, can strike any place on the planet, and may be replaced by rail-mobile ones (see above).

Myth #5: Conventional weapons, missile defense systems, and cyberweapons can replace nuclear weapons in a very wide range of missions and scenarios and against the vast majority of targets.

The facts: Such claims are preposterous. None of these weapons have anything even close to the destructive, crippling power of atomic weapons.

Conventional weapons utterly lack such power. Even the most powerful conventional bombs – MOABs and the now-retired Daisy Cutters – have the explosive power approaching only that of the lowest-yield nuclear warheads, and MOAB is not even designed to penetrate anything.

Cyberweapons can shut down computer networks, but only temporarily, and can’t physically destroy anything. Buildings, vehicles, warships, aircraft, and humans will still exist. Cyberweapons can only complement other types of arms, but never replace them.

Nor can missile defense ever replace nuclear weapons. It has long been an article of faith among conservatives, including conservative think-tank analysts, that it can, but the truth is that it can’t. This truth will be uncomfortable for them, but my job as defense analysts is to tell people the truth, not what they want to hear.

Missile defense technology is still in its infancy. Moreover, one needs several interceptors to shoot down one missile. For example, to shoot down one Russian ICBM would take 7 ground-based interceptors of the type deployed in AK and CA. US missile defense systems (except the PATRIOT) have never been tested in massive missile barrages – the type of missile attacks the US will actually have to counter.

Furthermore, BMD systems’ ability to distinguish real warheads from decoys is yet unclear, and there are no systems available for boost-phase interception. But worst of all, BMD interceptors are far more expensive than the ballistic missiles they’re designed to intercept. A THAAD missile costs $9-10 mn; an SM-3, $10 mn; a ground-based interceptor, $70 mn. It is far cheaper to build and launch ballistic missiles than to intercept them. Furthermore, America’s enemies already have such huge inventories of BMs of all types – measured in thousands – that they are and will always be able to overwhelm American BMD systems through sheer numbers.

The best way to protect against missiles of any kind is to kill the archer, not the arrow. Only “offensive” systems – strike systems – can do that. This includes ICBMs, SLBMs, cruise missiles, bombers, and theater strike aircraft.

Myth #6: The fewer nuclear weapons the US has, the better; cutting America’s nuclear deterrent makes America safer.

The facts: These claims are also completely false. No nation in history has become more secure by disarming itself – whether uni-, bi-, or multilaterally. No nation in history has increased its security by indulging in arms reduction and disarmament – such policies have only weakened, and reduced the security of, the  nations practicing them.

Myth #6 is, in fact, an utter rejection of any principle or notion of deterrence or of peace through strength; it turns these principles upside down. Myth #6 is essentially a claim that weakness is good and leads to peace and security; that weakening one’s own military (and that’s what cutting its arsenals of weapons does – it weakens the military) makes one more secure and the world more peaceful.

Many variations of this myth have been uttered by the Left. For example, during the forementioned HASC Strategic Forces Subcommitteee hearing, its ranking member, Democrat Jim Cooper of Tennessee, an ardent enemy of nuclear weapons, claimed that the biggest cut in America’s nuclear deterrent – made by the elder President Bush in the early 1990s – was “a good thing”, that it made America and the world more secure and peaceful, and that this is supposedly shared by the “mainstream” of American opinion. Another strident leftist, John Garamendi (D-CA), claimed that “whatever we can do to cut nuclear arsenals – here, in North Korea, around the world”  is a good thing.

Their claims are blatant lies, of course. As I’ve already stated, no nation in history has become more secure by disarming itself, and America won’t be the first. President Bush’s deep unilateral cut in America’s deterrent is a textbook example of that. He cut the arsenal by almost half, withdrew US nuclear weapons from Korea and from surface warships unilaterally, terminated MX ICBM production and B-2 bomber production at just 21 aircraft, terminated the Midgetman SRBM, and terminated warhead production and testing.

Yet, no one else has reciprocated. Since then, China has dramatically increased its nuclear arsenal – to at least 1,800 and up to 3,000 warheads – while North Korea and Pakistan joined the nuclear club, India and these two countries have conducted nuclear tests, and Iran has made dramatic progress towards nuclear weapon capability. Russia has begun rebuilding and modernizing its arsenal.

So Bush’s deep nuclear cuts only weakened America’s deterrent (and confidence in it) while utterly failing to discourage others from developing or increasing their own arsenals. Two new states have joined the nuclear club, others have conducted tests, and Iran is well on its way there.

That’s because cutting America’s nuclear deterrent DOES NOTHING to prevent or even slow down nuclear proliferation or encourage others to disarm themselves. It is perceived (correctly) as a sign of American weakness and appeasement. It only emboldens America’s enemies while leading America’s allies to doubt the US umbrella. It does NOTHING, and will never do anything, to eliminate or even reduce the arsenals of other powers.

Other nuclear (and aspiring) powers don’t care about America’s “example” or observance of arms control treaties; they care only about their own military strength and see nuclear weapons as a key element of that. America has NO followers on the road to “Global Zero” – which other nuclear powers simply DON’T want to travel. Even Bruce Blair has admitted at 1:04:41 that even if the US totally disarmed itself, NO ONE would follow suit.

Thus, we have refuted all of the 6 most popular leftist lies about nuclear weapons. It is impossible (and not even necessary) to refute all myths that have been made about these crucial instruments of deterrence; and the vast majority of the lies about them fall under one of these 6 categories.

Nuclear weapons are NOT a threat to America’s or the world’s security; on the contrary, they are key to preserving it far into the future. They are irreplaceable instruments of peace and deterrence.

Why America must not cut its nuclear arsenal any further

Russia and China are rapidly growing and modernizing their nuclear arsenals, North Korea is perfecting its warheads and missiles, Iran is racing towards nuclear weapons, and what do Western arms control advocacy organizations advocate? That the US disarm itself unilaterally, starting with deep unilateral cuts in its nuclear warhead stockpile and ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet.

But any further cuts to America’s nuclear arsenal or any component of its nuclear triad would be reckless, irresponsible, and very dangerous for national security by significantly weakening America’s only deterrent against nuclear threats. Weakening that deterrent (by cutting or neglecting it) is always dangerous for America, but it’s especially dangerous when hostile countries are building up their nuclear arsenals and other hostile countries are developing atomic weapons. So here are additional reasons why America must not cut its nuclear deterrent any further.

1) Russia is rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, as it is allowed to do under the New START treaty. When that treaty was ratified, Russia was well below its ceilings on strategic nuclear warheads and their carriers. Now, it’s just 58 warheads below the limit and intends to continue building up to it. It also threatens to withdraw from the treaty if the US deploys any missile defense systems in Europe. It has also violated the treaty by holding bomber exercises without sending prior notification to the US.

It currently has 400-472 ICBMs, most of them multiple-warhead missiles (including some, such as SS-18 Satan ICBMs, that can carry 10 warheads and many decoys each), 141 Tu-95 and 16 Tu-160 strategic bombers, and over 200 Tu-22M and Su-34 bombers. Each Tupolev bomber can carry multiple nuclear-tipped missiles as well as nuclear free-fall bombs.

Moreover, Russia has 12-13 SSBNs and plans to have, in the next few decades, at least 12 SSBNs, most of which will carry 16 SLBMs but some (starting with the 4th Borei class SSBN) will carry 20 missiles – 4 more than what the American SSBN replacement class is planned to carry, thus outgunning the planned future SSBN fleet of the Navy, which will consist of only 12 boats. Cutting the SSBN fleet (or any other component of the nuclear triad) any further would weaken that fleet (and consequently, the US nuclear arsenal at large) vis-a-vis Russia’s boomer fleet further and give Moscow a nuclear advantage over the US, thus allowing Russia to blackmail the US and its allies with nuclear weapons. And why would Russia not exploit such advantage over the US mercilessly if it gains it? Of course it would.

On top of that, Russia has a much larger tactical nuclear arsenal than the US, with thousands (and potentially over 10,000) tactical nuclear warheads deployed on a wide range of delivery systems: cruise missiles (air- and sea-launched), SRBMs, aircraft dropping nuclear bombs, torpedoes, etc. The US has only a few hundred (400-500) tactical nuclear weapons, of which only about 200 are deployed in Europe.

In short, Russia enjoys approximate strategic nuclear parity with the US, has a huge advantage over the US in tactical nuclear weapons, and thus, any cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal or any element of the strategic triad would weaken the US vis-a-vis Russia and give Moscow a nuclear advantage over the US.

2) China is also quickly building up its arsenals. According to credible studies – unlike the guesstimates of the US intelligence community, which are almost 3 decades out of date, and the false claims of pro-disarmament groups – China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads – and the means to deliver them, including over 70 ICBMs, at least 72 (and up to 132) SLBMs, 120-130 MRBMs and IRBMs, and over 1,600 SRBMs, not to mention hundreds of LACMs and 440 nuclear-armed bombers.

China is now producing and deploying three new types of ICBMs (DF-31A, DF-41, JL-2) and MIRVing these missiles as well as its older DF-5 ICBMs and DF-4 IRBMs. Cutting the US nuclear arsenal (or any component of the nuclear triad) deeply would leave America with a much smaller nuclear arsenal than China’s (which consists of 1,800 – 3,000 warheads), thus enabling Beijing to blackmail and even attack America and its Asian allies, all of whom depend on the US umbrella.

Even bilateral cuts with Russia would thus gravely undermine US security, as they would deeply reduce America’s nuclear deterrent vis-a-vis China.

3) Other countries are also increasing their nuclear arsenals, despite, or perhaps because of, continous cuts to America’s deterrent. These countries include Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. Pyongyang and Islamabad cannot be deterred with a small number of nuclear weapons. Pakistan alone has over 100 nuclear warheads.

4) Last but certainly not least, the US needs a large nuclear deterrent to protect its 30 treaty allies and other friends who depend on the American nuclear umbrella. This cannot be done with a small arsenal; it would be woefully insufficient to reassure allies about that arsenal’s credibility – and the credibility of America’s guarantees.

Unlike Russia and China, which are threats to many and protectors to nobody except North Korea, the US is responsible for providing a nuclear deterrent not just for itself but for over 30 allies in Europe and Asia, who are threatened by Russia and China.

Any further cuts will cause these allies to doubt America’s nuclear deterrent and, at some point, develop their own nuclear weapons, thus making the proliferation problem much worse. And who could blame them? They cannot afford to bet their own security and national insistence on America sobering up from its “world without nuclear weapons” fantasy in 2016.

If nuclear proliferation is the concern, cutting or eliminating America’s own nuclear deterrent is the worst way to handle it. It would only make matters worse.

As three distinguished CSBA analysts observed in December 2010′s edition of Foreign Affairs, America’s nuclear arsenal is shrinking just as its deterrence commitments are expanding substantially, and if the US cuts its nuclear arsenal below New START levels, “Washington will have fewer weapons to support these commitments, which will raise questions about its ability and its willingness to defend its allies and its partners if they are threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran.” The same must be applied to those allies threatened by Russia, China, or North Korea.[1]

Deep cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent would also encourage America’s enemies to develop their own arsenals, since any idiot can build a paltry 300 warheads, if that’s all that’s required to match the US. Many of America’s adversaries would gladly do so, if 300 warheads were enough to match the US.

So we would see many new nuclear powers – America’s allies as well as adversaries. Thus, further cuts in America’s arsenal, far from “setting an example” and “showing leadership”, would be a huge blunder and would gravely exacerbate, rather than solve or ameliorate, the problem of nuclear proliferation.

America’s nuclear deterrent is a crucial ASSET in curbing nuclear proliferation, rather than an obstacle. Cutting or eliminating it would do nothing to solve the proliferation problem. It would only exacerbate it.

Disarmament advocates sometimes falsely claim that the nuclear deterrent and its delivery systems are siphoning money away from higher defense priorities. This is a blatant lie.

Firstly, there is NO higher priority than nuclear deterrence, which protects America and its allies against the most catastrophic threats. Secondly, as demonstrated above, 450 ICBMs and ~90 nuclear bombers combined cost only $3.6 bn per year to maintain, a tiny rounding error (0.6%) in the DOD’s $531 bn annual base budget. Maintaining nuclear warheads costs barely $7.589 bn per year, again a rounding error in America’s total defense budget (which includes the DOE’s defense programs, including warhead maintenance). Combined, these tiny numbers add up to only $11.189 bn, i.e. a paltry 1.73% of the total military budget ($645 bn in FY2012).

Even eliminating the entire nuclear arsenal immediately wouldn’t produce any real savings.

As for replacement delivery systems, a single Next Gen Bomber will only cost, at most, $550 mn; a new ICBM, only ca. $70 mn (same as a Minuteman-III); and a new SSBN will cost only $2.4 bn if the DOD chooses a modified Virginia class design.

No, the nuclear deterrent is not siphoning dollars away from anything – it is other DOD programs, especially the egregiously expensive F-35 program (whose price tag is $396 bn), that are consuming money that could otherwise be invested in the overdue modernization of the nuclear deterrent – the only weapon system that has never failed America in the last 67 years.

Don’t be fooled by their claims. They don’t care about America’s defense or about defense priorities; all they want is America’s unilateral disarmament. Falsely claiming that the nuclear deterrent somehow siphons money away from other defense programs is just their latest excuse.

The record of the last 22 years is undeniable: decades of “arms reduction” and deeply cutting the US nuclear arsenal have only made America and its allies less secure and have utterly failed to stop nuclear proliferation, or to prevent China from significantly building up its nuclear arsenal.

Those who believe that America can safely cut its nuclear arsenal further are living in a kumbayah world of make-believe, a fantasy world which has nothing to do with the real Planet Earth.

No, America’s arsenal is not “oversized” nor “ripe for cuts”, nor is it expensive to maintain. It must not be cut. It must be retained at its current size (if not grown) and fully modernized along with the supporting infrastructure.

[1] Eric Edelman, Andrew Krepinevich, Evan Braden Montgomery, The Dangers of a Nuclear Iran, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2010, pp. 76-77.